When Alexander Fleming first discovered penicillin, he had the whole world raving about its benefits. However, with time, everyone is talking about the ill - effects of antibiotics rather than its uses.
How many of us are aware of the dangers of antibiotics? Not many realize that antibiotics that are easily and commonly prescribed are very dangerous too, as they account for almost half of all emergencies that occur due to antibiotics. Another startling fact is that those who are in the age group of 15-44, in other words, those in their prime, are the ones most impacted. Antibiotics are a group of drugs that are used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. It is indeed disturbing to know that a lot of upper respiratory tract infections are being treated by antibiotics although medical bodies have warned us that 90% of these infections are caused by viruses.
Antibodies have been prevalent since the 1940s. However, studies on the adverse effects of antibiotics have been initiated only in the 21 st century. This implies that antibiotics were assumed to be safe and hence, widely used to treat not only humans but also livestock.
These days the misuse of antibiotics, in the form of overuse, is of real concern due to its great impact on humans. Using antibiotics indiscriminately leads to drug resistance, a situation in which the drug is no longer potent enough to treat pathogenic bacteria. In the event of drug resistance, simple infections become untreatable and this, in turn, can lead to a life-threatening situation.
Also, the overuse of antibiotics used in treating livestock has adversely affected the ability of these drugs in treating humans. Cattle are fed with fodder containing antibiotics leading to the growth of drug resistant bacteria in them. When humans eat or handle meat from these livestock they become infected with “superbugs, “as these resistant bacteria are called. Presently, Super bugs are capable of causing pneumonia, skin infections or urinary tract infections. This scenario is likely to worsen, should similar conditions prevail.
The presence of natural flora (probiotics) in the gut is absolutely necessary in aiding digestion, synthesizing vitamin K and in keeping away yeast and other pathogens. A well- balanced gut, with a healthy supply of natural flora, is the foundation of a healthy immune system. Overuse of antibiotics lowers immunity and decreases the number of white blood cells that are required to fight infection. This results in the growth of Yeast, a type of fungi, which is capable of changing the topography of the intestine. During the course of its growth the tendrils of yeast can perforate intestinal wall resulting in a condition called the “leaky gut syndrome,” where the patient suffers from food intolerance, bloating and allergies.
Also, the presence of Yeast in the intestine creates a craving for carbohydrates, which eventually results in obesity. Weight gain is suspected to be the main reason for the overuse of antibiotics in cattle feed. A major cause of concern is the exposure of humans to drug –resistant bacteria through dairy products and meat. The health of anyone who partake of dairy products from such cattle is likely to be compromised.
Stronger antibiotics are prescribed to counter resistant bacteria and these drugs in turn create more resistant ones. Antibiotics are capable of killing good bacteria along with the bad ones, thereby providing an ambience for grave illnesses to develop. Please remember that it takes at least one year for the beneficial flora to recolonize the intestine.
It is also good to limit the use of food with preservatives, which are “hidden antibiotics,” as they control microbial growth. It’ s a vicious cycle and physicians need to understand the gravity of the Frankenstein they are unleashing on unsuspecting patients. Perhaps we may need to turn to nature’s anti-microbial agents, such as turmeric, raw honey, ginger, garlic, apple cider vinegar and many more, to deal with minor problems and invent prudent methods to deal with major problems at hand.